Lovestruck Mike Scott brings rap, Muscle Shoals and Japan to twelfth album.
Holed up in his Puck Towers studio in Dublin, Mike Scott brings word on his storied group’s twelfth.
“HIP-HOP… I LOVE ITS RECKLESS FREEDOM.”
It’s not every day you hear Mike Scott impersonate a US police officer singing opera while putting up a bookshelf, but The Waterboys’ chief does so fleetingly on New York I Love You, an episodic, character-rich newie that owes something to the riff from The Velvet Underground’s Sweet Jane. If Scott sounds especially buoyant on his upcoming double set, it’s with good reason. “There are about 15 love songs – many more than I’ve put on a record before,” he says, alluding to his courtship of – and subsequent marriage to – the Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, AKA Rokudenashiko. Work on Out Of All This Blue – the title comes from a song that didn’t make the cut – began in June 2015. It was largely made at Scott’s Dublin studio, Puck Towers, with additional recording at the city’s Cauldron Studios. A recent Scott Tweet surprised fans when it flagged the new album’s soul, R&B and even hip-hop influences, and while The Waterboys are still a way from Dre, the loops and found-sounds which pepper songs such as If The Answer Is Yeah certainly break new ground for the man behind 1985’s celebrated This Is The Sea and its rootsy 1988 follow-up, Fisherman’s Blues. “Rock’n’roll is a retro form and I’m not finding anything new in it,” explains Scott. “The thing I love about hip-hop is that even though it’s been around for about 35 years it’s still a changing frontier. I love its reckless freedom.” Some of the new material was written in Japan while Scott courted Rokudenashiko (the couple are now based in Dublin and have a baby son together), and three of the songs have Japanese titles. “One is called Payo Payo Chin, which is an affectionate Japanese way of saying good morning,” says Scott. “There also a funny hip-hop tune called Yamaben that’s about the guy who was Megumi’s lawyer during her court case.” [In May 2016, Tokyo District Court found Rokudenashiko, who is known for her female genitalia-inspired works, not guilty of obscenity]. Collaborators this time out include Scott’s long-term foil Steve Wickham on Hendrixesque fuzz-fiddle, while esteemed bassist/Muscle Shoals swamper David Hood and Hammond organ ace ‘Brother Paul’ Brown are among the other returnees from the sessions that spawned 2015’s Modern Blues. Scott also recruited Trey Pollard of Spacebomb Productions for string and brass arrangements. “Another big part of my writing is because I’m a dad now,” adds Scott. “I’ve also got a little daughter [from a previous relationship with singer/actress Camille O’Sullivan], and she keeps saying, ‘Daddy! Another story out of your head!’ I’m continuously making up songs for her, and in a funny way that has opened the creative floodgates.”